Temple Grandin, whom I greatly admire, refers to parenting as a “major source of therapeutic momentum”. But she adds, when children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, parents may not have enough expectations for their children.
They bring the child through school to graduation, but in the meantime, they have not given the child the kind of experience that teaches them life skills, leaving the graduate either unemployed or under-employed.
Autistic children need to learn how to work, Grandin asserts. They need to learn basic coping skills, like how to shop, how to order food in a restaurant. Showing up on time, being responsible for a task outcome, these are skills that are needed in order to learn how to be on the job.
That’s why I personally feel that involving kids on the autism spectrum in some kind of volunteer activity, where they must show up regularly, and perform expected tasks, is invaluable to today’s kids, autistic or not.
As a volunteer, they must learn to be courteous (a missing factor in today’s world, Grandin laments) and to be reliable, to learn certain work routines and to cope with organizational structures.
As a volunteer, they will also meet retired people who have similar interests and who can mentor them.
The best part? The child can choose the type of organization he/she wishes to volunteer with and select from a schedule of available days and times those which would be most suitable for them.
These kinds of situations force spectrum kids to interact with others, and Grandin says to insist on social interaction for your child is not only desirable, but necessary if you want him to succeed.
“The skills that people with autism bring to the table should be nurtured, for their benefit and for society’s.” That’s why Grandin believes parents must help their children get out into the work world, learn coping skills and the basics of social etiquette.
As parents, we either help, or hinder. While we cannot help how children are viewed by others, our most important work is in how we encourage our children to see themselves.
Quotes from: http://www.templegrandin.com/